Cooking a holiday meal is no small feat, and if anyone knows the extent of the kitchen stress, it’s Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond. For years, the kitchen expert has not only prepared her own family’s Christmas dinners, but she also helps fellow home chefs balance the side dishes with the main course.
Through her own trials and errors, Drummond has all but perfected her routines and techniques for handling a big holiday meal. And, of course, she was more than happy to share her helpful tidbits with her fans that might be a little apprehensive about their stovetop duties.
In an interview with Mashed, Ree Drummond has two easy steps for conquering Christmas dinner.
“I learned the hard way through the years that if you are hosting a pretty big gathering or making a big meal, that if you choose recipes that are all last minute, it is going to result in chaos, and you do not want your guests to get that vibe,” Ree Drummond shared.
Step One – Choose Your Dishes Carefully
Let’s get real for a second. You likely have four burners, two shelves in the oven, and one microwave for any last-minute frozen veggies. The last thing you want is a full stove while the oven timer buzzes, quickly drying out the succulent ham. In short, you need to be strategic about what dishes you choose and when you cook them.
One easy way to cut down on holiday stress, according to Ree Drummond, is to opt for a casserole or two.
“If you are doing casseroles, casseroles are amazing because you can make almost any casserole up to two days before and put it in the fridge unbaked,” the Pioneer Woman said.
“Then take it out a couple of hours before the party to bring it to room temperature, and then bake it off, and they are almost better if you make them a couple of days ahead of time and let them sit in the fridge and get more delicious,” she continued.
Ree Drummond recommends dishes like mashed potato casserole, green bean casserole, or even noodle-based dishes like lasagna.
Step Two – Prep Ahead of Time
Just as important to Ree Drummond’s holiday meal prep is timing. In order to give herself some breathing room before the guests arrive, Drummond “prebuilds” her appetizers and small dishes.
“Pre-build holiday platters and plates, charcuterie, and salads,” Drummond said. “You can put all those together earlier in the day and just try to minimize the things that require last-minute cooking and prep.”
That way, you have plenty of time to light the candles, fold the napkins and perhaps even sip some whiskey before it’s time to say grace.